The Thing with Feathers

The bird who has built its nest
recently in the drainpipe is either optimistic
or foolish. Lately, I feel like optimism
is foolish in these darkly troubling times.
Maybe optimism is the thing with feathers.

bird pipe

The title and final line here is a nod to Emily Dickinson’s poem in which the thing with feathers is hope.

Meditation on Birdsongs


Black-capped_Chickadee at a suet feeder

The welcoming sunlight forced my eyes closed – 
into meditation mode: white-throated sparrow’s simple notes
of three/four; harsh jay’s single screech bu
no Barred Owl’s “Who cooks for you.”
Sets of three-noted refrains – Black-capped Chickadees feeding.


I have been trying in recent years to be able to identify some common avian visitors to my neighborhood by their songs. “Songs” may seem grandiose for some of these simple notes. I suspect they are melodic sentences, though they do seem to repeat a chorus or refrain. You can hear these songs at Perhaps, some birds write haiku, while others prefer free verse or their own kind of villanelles.